[Written from the perspective of 'Me']
Round Duggie's house, is a little room with an orange leather sofa. It's stuffed with old pasty wrappers, bits of scrap paper, notebooks, newspapers and music.
Me and Duggie Chop sit in there sometimes to listen to records. By records I mean LPs. One of the walls is filled with a white Ikea ['Expedit'] shelving unit containing 1,000s of LPs, stacked in alphabetical order.
He's got a nice set up, Duggie: Rega turntable and Roksan [Kandy LIII] amplifier through some tiny Dali speakers [Lektor 1] placed on a shelf. "You should always overdrive your speakers," says Duggie, "first principle of setting up a hifi."
We decide to do an A-Z thing, listen to whatever turns up scanning from left to right on the shelf. Duggie hands me a Ginsters and I settle down into the sofa.
"Ash," says Duggie, "Haven't played that for ages." And he selects the black cover of '1977' from the shelf.
It's a gatefold cover with the image of a street scene and an upturned bin on the front. The image is placed sideways and printed twice. It's repeated on the back. You can tell the thing is designed for CD, the tracks are listed 1 - 12, no 'side 1', 'side 2' (luckily this is sorted in the gatefold - still numbered 1-12, but at least 'side 1' and 'side 2' are split).
Inside are shots of the band having a laugh in the studio and on tour, photographed next to signs that say things like: 'Domination - Teenage - Bi-sexual'. The band are either sticking their tongues out or holding bottles of booze.
"The LP's called '1977' cos that's when they were born, they were all about 19 when they recorded it," says Duggie, "precocious gits!"
"Didn't know you were into them," I say.
"I liked that 'Girl From Mars' track and 'Kung Fu' was pretty cool at the time, you know," says Duggie, "also it was on vinyl and dead cheap. Couldn't resist it."
On vinyl in 1996. Right in the middle of the time that record companies, shops and 'The Man' were trying to scrap vinyl in favour of an alternative new(ish) format: The CD. Or the SACD or some other nonsensical platform. Am I being cynical by imagining that this was a way to encourage music lovers to replace their entire collections with a new format - to buy the whole lot all over again? Plus invest in some pricey new equipment?
"Yeah, on vinyl," says Duggie, "it was like jumping in bed with your mates Mum, to buy LPs back them. It's kinda cool now."
Duggie takes a big chomp out of his chilli pasty and stares at the wall, thinking, "If I'd bought this record on CD, it'd be on a shelf now gathering dust, there'd be no reason to play it. It'd also seem alot more dated."
"I know what you mean," I say, "CDs are like commodities aren't they. Some crap you buy from Tescos."
And Duggie's nodding his head, no doubt just like thousands of other people who care about music are doing this very moment, as they have this same conversation.
"Ash wrote some bloody good tunes," says Duggie, "I like the way the album starts with that heavy metal thing. Side 2 is cool as well, I forgot about 'Oh Yeah' - you know, 'Oh yeah, she was taking me over, Oh yeah, it was the start of the summer.' Gets you all nostalgic for school, doesn't it?"
"Yep," I say, "that moment when, in the heat of July, the bell rings and everyone runs across the school field, seeking new adventures duirng that long, six week break."
"You mean snogging, don't you?" says Duggie.
"Yep," I say.
Duggie opens his flask of tea and hands me a cup. It's weird the way he always uses a thermos, even at home. Says he can't be bothered to get up once he starts listening. What a pro!
"Reckon I'll be spinning this one again," says Duggie, "funny how that happens with music. I mean, '1977' has been sitting up there for years."
"It's a continual renewal," I say, "record collections. Something just sparks off an urge to play an obscure record and one thing leads to another."
"You gotta play the whole record though, haven't you?" says Duggie.
"Too right, none of this Mp3 skipping around," I say.
I mean, we've both got iPods, you know. It's just that's not proper listening. It's like when you had your tape on a Walkman. Something you'd recorded from an LP. You'd play it on the Walkman when you couldn't get to the family music centre to listen to it properly.
"Reckon we're becoming old farts?" says Duggie.
I take a bite of my pasty and chew, washing it down with a slurp of tea.